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REBNY hails 'Ingenious' deals at annual ceremony.

Richard Karson, Jim Robbins and Harly Stevens have won the Real Estate Board of New York's 61st annual Henry Hart Rice Award for the "Most Ingenious Deal of the Year," for the making of "The Rodale Building," The Durst Organization's conversion of 733 Third Avenue.

At the annual Sales Brokers cocktail party at the 101 Club on Tuesday, April 12, REBNY also presented honors to Andrew J. Singer and Kathleen McSharry who were presented the second place, Robert T. Lawrence Memorial Award for the financing of 20 Exchange Place.

The newly-created third place prize, the Edward S. Gordon Memorial Award, was won by Adam Foster, Joan Meixner and Stephen B. Siegel for the purchase of 230 West 41st Street.

"REBNY's Ingenious Deal of the Year awards are the most coveted and prestigious prizes in New York City's real estate industry and acknowledge the top sales, leasing and finance deals of the year. The awards recognize our talented members for their skill and ingenuity in coming up with innovative solutions to some of the most challenging deals," said Steven Spinola, REBNY President.

"We praise the winners for their hard work and dedication, and for setting such high standards for our industry."

The winning team of Richard Karson, Jim Robbins and Harly Stevens of CB Richard Ellis, took on Rodale's challenge to create a more efficient work space for their expanding business in publishing healthy lifestyle publications. Rodale first took up residence in 733 Third Avenue in 1993 with 16,000 square feet. As the company grew, it expanded gradually, taking available space that was not always the most efficient to accommodate its growing workforce. Dissatisfied with its non-contiguous space, Rodale began searching for a long-term solution in 2000.

In 2003, the CB Richard Ellis team was brought in to endorse a move to 909 Third Avenue, a transaction arranged by Rodale's previous broker that would have raised the base rent and resulted in the company spending millions of dollars for out-of-pocket costs. Instead, the CB team proposed an idea to restack the property to form a contiguous block of space, renovate and rename 733 Third Avenue. The team had succeeded in creating a deal where one was not thought possible, exceeding Rodale's expectations, and enhancing the long-term value of Durst's real estate investment.

Andrew Singer & Kathleen McSharry, of The Singer & Bassuk Organization, received their award for the intricate 96% acquisition financing for a 40% vacant, Class B office building in a Class C office location, with substantially declining cash flow during the loan. Despite these challenges, the team managed to arrange complex financing consisting of a first mortgage, senior mezzanine and junior mezzanine loans and a mezzanine credit enhancement for a Liberty Bond project that was under construction by the principals across the street from 20 Exchange Place at 63 Wall Street. The transaction involved highly complicated senior and mezzanine debt, and all of the separate pieces needed to close simultaneously. In short, the team had created a complicated deal that met the client's need for financing of $155 million or 103% of the purchase price and 96% of the projected total acquisition and pre-development costs.

The winners of the Edward S. Gordon award worked with their client, the Research Foundation, to complete the purchase of a 300,000-square-foot 50% vacant building for the Research Foundation's headquarters. The team also advised on the financing with the mortgage broker, and arranged a master lease with the not-for-profit's largest client, the City University of New York (CUNY) for 150,000 square feet of vacant space, thereby leveraging CUNY's credit to maximize financing dollars, minimize financing costs, and at the same time, providing a stable income stream.

The deal was considered "ingenious" because the team had managed to preempt the active marketing of the building for sale, while keeping the seller on course through the client's complex approval process. More importantly, the team created a long-term occupancy solution that achieved the strategic and financial objectives of two important New York institutions--the Research Foundation and CUNY.

The judges for this year's awards were Woody Heller, Studley; Sheri Chromow, Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman; Sam Giarrusso, M&T Bank; Jim Houlihan, Houlihan & Parries/iCAP Realty Advisors LLC; and Anthony Westreich, Monday Properties.

The event was sponsored by: Fremont Investment and Loan, North Fork Bank, The Durst Organization, Inc., Vornado Realty Trust, M & T Bank and The New York Times.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 20, 2005
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